365 days of gratitude


There was a time when the Ranfurly Shield stayed stubbornly with one team.

Auckland had held it for ages when they challenged North Otago and for a few glorious minutes the score line was North Otago 5 – Auckland – 0.

The former scored no more points and Auckland added 359 by the time the final whistle blew.

Then Canterbury won the shield and staved off multiple challenges.

But in recent years challengers have managed to win and the shield has had several different homes.

Today, for the second time in recent years, it has come back to Otago.

Last time the team held it for little more than a week.

This time it will stay on the right side of the Waitaki River for at least the summer, and fingers crossed, maybe a bit longer.

However, long it’s in the hands of the blue and gold team, we’ll enjoy it while it lasts.

Tonight I’m grateful to be on the winning side.



Hawkes Bay 20 – Otago 19.

Congratulations Alwyn, an electronic bottle of wine of your choice awaits you.

A tale of two headlines


The Press: Southland lift Ranfurly Shield – last minute drop goal steals shield

Southland Times: Southland’s shield again – late drop-goal gets Stags up

No pressure


Southland started the rugby season with the Ranfurly Shield but now it’s moved north – though thankfully not off the Mainland.

Otago hit rock bottom.

Today North Otago has the opportunity to bring a little rugby pride back to the right side of the Waitaki River when the Old Golds play W(h)anganui in the final game for the Meads Cup.

No pressure, boys, but all fingers and toes are crossed (and they’ll need to be if Keeping Stock’s assessment is correct).

North Otago won – now it’s Southland’s turn


North Otago leads the Heartland rugby race for the Meads Cup after a 21-16 win against W(h)anganui in Oamaru this afternoon.

Pleased as I am about that, I won’t be celebrating until the end of the Ranfurly Shield challenge tonight.

I’d back Canterbury against any team from the north but my first allegiance is with teams from the right side of the Waitaki River so I’m hoping Southland holds tight to the shield tonight.

UPDATE: 26-16. Ah well, at least the shield is still on the Mainland.

Southland deserves to keep the shield – Updated


If ever a province deserved to win the Ranfurly Shield it was Southland.

The excitement when the Stags beat Canterbury last year infected Invercargill and the hinterland and the people have stayed behind the team.

It’s been a really tough week in the south, holding on to the shield would mean much more to Southlanders than winning it would to Aucklanders.

If it came to community support the challengers wouldn’t have a chance and the defenders know that. They’ll be playing their hearts out.

UPDATE: 9-6 to Southland. Phew!

Go Otaaaaago


The Waitaki River has been not just a geographic boundary, it has also marked an historical, social, cultural and – at times – political division between Otago and Canterbury .

However, those of us on the right side of the Waitaki accept that those on the other side are South Islanders and we’ll back them against any but our own.

The relationship between Otago and Southland is much closer. We rarely regard each other as rivals and many of us would be hard pressed to say exactly where the boundary between the two provinces is.

The battles of one are the battles of both – as witnessed by the combined action by both provinces backed by the ODT and Southland Times to keep neurological services in Dunedin.

If either Southland or Otago was playing Canterbury, or any other team, for the Ranfurly Shield tonight we’d have no doubt about which team we wanted to win.

But as Otago prepares to challenge Southland for the shield the rivalry is friendlier. 

I say go Otaaago and Brunette is backing the boys from further south.

But while blue and gold supporters want their team to win and maroon and gold fans are right behind theirs, deep down there’s a feeling that as long as the shield stays on the right side of the Waitaki, it doesn’t really matter which team holds it.

North Otago vs Southland


North Otago’s experience with Ranfurly Shield challenges is not a happy one.

The Oamaru Mail records:

1938  lost to Otago 12-0; 1946 lost to Southland `5-3; 1947 lost to Otago 42 -3; 1971 lost to Canterbury 14-0; 1973 lost to Malborough 26 -9; 1974 lost to South Canterbury 9-3; 1983 lost to Canterbury 88-0; 1993 lost to Auckland 139 -5; 2000 lost to Waikato 95-17; 2003 lost to Canterbury 85-24; 2008 lost to Auckland 113 -3.

Even the most ardent North Otago fans aren’t expecting miracles when the team meets Southland at Rugby Park tonight but they are expecting fun.

One of our staff manages the North Otago team and presented one of our Southland staff with a North Otago jacket when he was up here on Wednesday. The Southlander has promised to wear it, though he’ll also be wearing his Stags’ hat and scarf.

The whole Southland province has embraced its shield win with enthusiasm and there’s a sell-out crowd for tonight’s game. Regardless of the result, rugby may really be the winner.

UPDATE: The ODt interviews Doug Grant who played for North Otago in the 1971 shield challenge against a Canterbury team fielding 11 All Blacks with another in the reserves.

Sport talk


’tis the season for best and worst.

Best sporting feat of the year – Southland winning the Ranfurly Shield. I’m awarding that not for the match but the enthusiastic response of the province to winning it.

And worst? Does my failure to maintain last summer’s fitness for the whole year count?

Sport talk


*Lisa Tamati is nearly at the end of her goal to run the length of New Zealand in 33 days.

* A friend emailed us a photo captioned look what I got for my birthday, come and get it.

The photo showed him sitting beside this:

I suspect it will be the first of many taunts which come our way because North Otago will be the first to challenge Southland for the shield next year.

* Where’s the line between legitimate interest in a sporting figure’s private life and prurience and has it been crossed by the saturation coverage of Tiger Woods?

Saturday’s smiles


Two blokes from Invercargill died and woke up in hell.

The next day the devil stopped in to check on them and saw them dressed  in swannies, mittens and balaclavas warming themselves around the fire.

The devil said, “What are you doing? Isn’t it hot enough for you?”

The blokes replied, “Well, you know, we’re from Invercargill, the land of snow and ice and cold. We’re just happy for a chance to warm up a little bit, eh.”

The devil decided that these two weren’t miserable enough and turned up the heat.

The next morning he stopped in again and there they were, still dressed in swannies, mittens and balaclavas. The devil asks them again, “It’s awfully hot down here, can’t you guys feel it?”

Again the two blokes replied, “Well, like we told ya yesterday, we’re from Invercargill, the land of snow and ice and cold. We’re just happy for a chance to warm up a little bit, eh.”

This got the devil a little steamed so he cranked the heat up as high as it would go. The people were wailing and screaming everywhere. He stopped by the room with the two guys from Invercargill and found them in “T” shirts, footie shorts and jandals drinking Speights and cooking a barbeque.

The devil was astonished, “Everyone down here is in abject misery, and you two seem to be enjoying ourselves.”

The two Southlanders replied, “Well, ya know, we don’t get too much warm weather down there in Invercargill so we’ve just got to have a cook-up when the weather’s this nice.”

The devil was absolutely furious then he came up with the answer. The two blokes
loved the heat because they’d been cold all their lives. The devil decided to turn all the heat off in hell.

The next morning, the temperature was below zero, icicles are hanging everywhere; people were shivering so badly that they are unable to do anything but wail, moan
and gnash their teeth.

The devil smiled and headed for the room with the two Southlanders. He got there and found them back in their swannies, mittens and balaclavas. They were also jumping up and down, cheering, yelling and screaming like mad men.

The devil was dumbfounded, “I don’t understand, when I turn up the heat you’re happy. Now it’s freezing cold and you’re still happy. What is wrong with you two?”

The Southlanders looked at the devil in surprise, “Well, don’t you know?  If hell freezes over, it must mean that Southland has won the Ranfurly Shield.

Sport talk


* Since rugby became professional Southland has lost many of its stars to other provinces. The grapevine tells me that  the Ranfurly Shield win may result in at least one or two of them coming home.

* Garrick Tremain’s cartoon in today’s ODT shows a reporter and camera man at the reception desk of the NZ Cricket Council.

The reporter says: We’d like to do interviews with the captain, the coach, the selector, psychologist, nutritionist, trainer and the coach driver pelase.

The receptionist is on the phone and says: Daniel . . . couple of gentlemen to see you.

* There’s a rugby match in Tokyo tomorrow.

* What’s up with netball?

If you have anything to say on these or other sporting matters this is your chance to do so.

Southland celebrates


They may not have the numbers found in provinces further north and even the most loyal Southlander would admit that they don’t always get the warmest of weather.

But Southland certainly knows how to celebrate.

The Southland Times covers yesterday’s Ranfurly Shield parade here.

Sport talk


Is there anything to discuss except Southland’s Ranfurly Shield win, about which Roarprawn is justifiably excited?

If there is (or even if there isn’t), the floor is yours.

Southland wins Ranfurly Shield – updated x2



Southland 9 Canterbury 3.


Someone who knows more about rugby may correct me but I think this is the first time the Ranfurly Shield’s been held on the right side of the Waitaki River since Otago lost it in 1957.

Update 2:

The Southland Times says it’s 50 years since Southland had the shield.

Then they held it for just one match. This time it’s theirs for at least the summer.

North Otago 3 Auckland a wee bit more


They’re big boys those Auckland lads and we’ll take heart from the fact that although North Otago scored two points fewer than the last Ranfurly Shield challenge against them in 1993 they scored fewer too. The score was 139 -5 last time, today it was 113 –  3.

Nth Otago 5 – Auckland 0


Last time North Otago challenged Auckland for the Ranfurly Shield we scored first and for a few glorious minutes the scoreboard read: North Otago 5 – Auckland 0.

By the end of that game, in 1993, we still had 5 points but Auckland had quite a few more – 139.

We’re hosting a challenge again today and I’m facing a wardrobe problem. Partly for political reasons and partly because I like the colour, most of my clothes are blue. That’s not a problem when  I’m backing Otago but it’s also Auckland’s colour so today I ought to wear old gold and maroon in support of the home side.

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